HOUSTON, TX (4 OCTOBER 2013)-This Saturday, the Firestone Indy Lights Series will be making the penultimate stop of its 2013 season, taking over the streets surrounding Reliant Stadium in the Grand Prix of Houston. As this year of Indy Lights races draws to a close, it marks the conclusion of 18-year-old Zach Veach's rookie season in the series. Not only has Veach been required to learn a new car this year, but he's also had to learn a series of new racing venues, and Houston is no exception. Far from shrinking from the difficult task however, the challenge excites the young driver as he hopes to gain both momentum and experience heading into the off-season.

Zach Veach, Andretti Autosport
Zach Veach, Andretti Autosport

Photo by: Bret Kelley

There hasn't been a motorsports event on the streets of Houston since 2007, before the reunification of American open wheel racing with the merger of the Champ Car World Series and the Indy Racing League-the same year that Veach began his own racing career in karts at age twelve. As a result, neither teams nor the up-and-coming drivers of Indy Lights have experience on the circuit, or any data from contemporary racing equipment to draw on. "Personally, I like showing up to a place that's new on the schedule where no one has had testing, because it makes for a very level playing field," explained an excited Veach. "At a place like Houston, it's all about the drivers learning the track as fast as possible, and the teams developing the cars without any previous data." In order to facilitate that process a bit, Zach and the Replay XD team came down to Houston a week early to test at MSR-a permanent road course located just outside the city. "The track where we were testing is a great simulator for street courses. Even though it's not the same layout we'll be racing on at the Grand Prix of Houston, it will help us tremendously when it comes to showing up and being ready to race on the downtown streets," said Veach.

That extra time practicing under street course conditions could really pay off because "street racing is really its own breed of racing," explained Veach. "It's very quick and aggressive, leading to a driving style more of risky survival than perfection. In terms of fan base and atmosphere, you can't ask for a better event. The people come out and really support us taking over their city for a weekend."

There's been a month long break since the Firestone Indy Lights were last in action at another street course venue in Baltimore, but Veach has not been taking time off, relaxing at home. In addition to taking airplane pilot's lessons in Florida, he's spent lots of time training to prepare himself for the challenges of running a rough and demanding track in Houston. He hopes the prep work will pay off, giving both the team and himself a fitting reward for all the hard work they've put in so far this season. "Being competitive now really gives us momentum going into winter testing, while preparing to contend for the 2014 championship," Veach said. With his acute focus and determination to finish the year on a strong note, Veach hopes to be flying high when the checkered flag waves on Saturday afternoon.

Beyond being one of the nation's most gifted young racing drivers, Zach Veach is an accomplished author, public speaker, and national spokesperson against bullying and distracted driving.

About Zach Veach: Zach Veach is an 18-year-old Andretti Autosport autoracing driver who competes in INDYCAR's 'Mazda Road to Indy' Firestone Indy Lights Series, an important final open-wheel stepping-stone to a career in the IZOD IndyCar Series and Indianapolis 500. In 2012, Veach captured the Formula Car Challenge Winter Series Championship and in 2011, he secured the USF2000 Cooper Tires Winterfest Championship. Veach was chosen as one of CNN's "Intriguing People" in 2010, named by ESPN the Magazine as a NEXT athlete in motorsports in 2011 and picked as a "Face in the Crowd" by Sports Illustrated in 2012. He was voted the "Most Popular Driver" in his racing series in both 2011 and 2012 and is part of Got Chocolate Milk?'s Team REFUEL. In addition to his racing, Veach is an advocate for safer driving as the national spokesperson for FocusDriven and for bullying prevention, headlining a national anti-bullying campaign through the Cyber Safety Academy's "No BULL Challenge." He has also authored a book, 99 Things Teens Wish They Knew Before Turning 16 and graduated from high school in May 2013.

Zach Veach PR